CHINA – Finlays, a sub-affiliate of the London-based John Swire & Sons, has opened its first refined tea processing plant in China, located in Guizhou province, after investing 120 million yuan (US$17 million).

The plant will be producing black tea, green tea and white tea and started operations in late October, according to a ChinaDaily report.

Currently, the factory has two production lines, each producing sliced tea and tea in sticks. By 2023, the company plans to achieve an annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons of tea.

The tea produced at the company’s facility in Guizhou, China’s largest tea plantation area, will be marketed locally as well as to the European and United states markets.

Currently, the tea is exported to the United States. Starting next year, the company plans to export the products its major markets globally, including Germany, France, Morocco and Russia.

The export volume is expected to reach 3,000 tons to 5,000 tons annually from the factory.

According to the company, tea produced for the local market will be packed with a quick response code where consumers can scan the code to track the producers, natural environment of origin and the condition of the use of pesticides.

Finlays said it choose Guizhou as the operation base owed to the regions history in tea production. The tea made in Guizhou can meet or exceed the standards of the European Union, Finlays said.

“The air quality in some areas of Guizhou can be 10 to 15 times cleaner than the clean air standard proposed by the World Health Organization,” said Fu Chuanyao, president of the Guizhou Tea Culture Research Association.

“Unlike the production and investment models in other countries, Finlays collects tea from its cooperative small-scale local farmers in Guizhou and then refines them at the factory,” said Li Jian, PR relations director of John Swire & Sons Ltd in China.

“At other places, the tea comes from big management suppliers,” Li Added.

Finlays said it hopes to build a sustainable and flexible purchase and supply model in Guizhou, and build an ecological tea production and marketing chain from tea to tea cups.

“We are bullish on the growth prospects of ecological tea produced in Guizhou, so we have built a high-quality ecological tea garden and refined tea processing plant there,” Li said.

Finlays also provides tea plantation training, such as integrated pest management without applying pesticides, yield and cost management, and the use of smart mobile technologies for local farmers.